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Hesperis matronalis Purpurea, Sweet Rocket - Purple, untreated

£0.79

A very ornamental plant, it is a short-lived perennial and is often grown as a biennial. A good bee, butterfly and moth plant, it is a specific food plant for the orange-tip butterfly.

The flowers are very aromatic with a clove-like fragrance, this is especially apparent in the evening. They usually have very little scent during the day and thus obtained a reputation in folk-lore for deceit.

The plant is sometimes cultivated for the essential oil contained in its seed.

Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a light soil. Prefers partial shade but also succeeds in full sun. Established plants tolerate drought.

Plants are hardy to about -15°c. A good bee and butterfly plant. Often grown in the flower garden, it is occasionally cultivated for its root.

Plants are fast-growing and usually self-sow freely.

Sow spring in an outdoor seedbed and plant them out in late summer. Germination should take place within 3 weeks.

The seed can also be sown in early spring in a warm greenhouse. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring. The seed can also be sown in July for planting out in the following spring.

 Edible uses

Young leaves - raw. Rich in vitamin C, they are used as a cress substitute in salads. A rather bitter flavour, though many people like the extra tang it gives to salads. For culinary purposes, the leaves should be picked before the plant flowers.

Flowers taste a litle like letuce and are used to decorate salads, eaten whole after removing the stalk and greenery.

The seed can be sprouted and added to salads.

The seed contains 50% of an edible oil - there is a potential for cultivation.

 http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Hesperis_matronalis

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